How to Euthanize a Cat With Over the Counter Drugs?

Can i put my cat to sleep at home

It hurts to see our cats hurt. Whether it be because of severe chronic pain or simply an extremely advanced age, putting them to sleep at this point is usually the kindest thing to do.

For those who can afford it, we strongly recommend seeing or hiring a licensed veterinarian. It is to give your pet a painless injection, either at their clinic or your home.

But for those who can’t or who prefer to say goodbye to their beloved pet in private, these are some ways on how to euthanize a cat with over the counter drugs.

When to Euthanize Your Pet

This is a question that only you can determine the answer to. But knowing when to say goodbye is an integral part of pet care.

It is when we have done all we can to treat our pets’ terminal illness, such as liver failure, kidney failure, or even cancer.

It is when what they need is beyond the capabilities of veterinary medicine.

It is when our cat’s quality of life is extremely compromised, and it just seems kinder to ease our cat’s pain and let them die peacefully.

It is best to have a professional perform pet euthanasia. Still, there are several over-the-counter treatments that let your cat pass peacefully in your arms. Both you and your cat will feel more comfortable at home, and it is a form of low-cost euthanasia.

What to Prepare to Euthanize a Cat at Home

Can i put my cat to sleep at home

The first thing needed is to emotionally prepare yourself and others who consider themselves part of the pet’s family. It is definitely a painful part of being a pet owner.

Your cat itself however, only needs a few things:

Ways to Euthanize a Cat With Over the Counter Drugs

Can i put my cat to sleep at home

Please note that even if you perform cat euthanasia on your own without vet assistance, it is still recommended to consult those who know the best product and dosage for your pet. It is to guarantee a painless leaving for your cat.

1. Euthanizing with Tylenol PM

Tylenol PM is a common painkiller in our household, used for relieving minor aches and pains. It can also help one fall asleep due to the presence of the chemical diphenhydramine, which causes drowsiness.

Cats, however, can be harmed when they ingest this medication. And due to that mentioned sensitivity, it is possible to euthanize a cat with Tylenol PM.

To humanely kill a cat with Tylenol PM, it is recommended to first feed it some sleeping pills.

Or you can begin the process with gabapentin, a sedative administered 1-2 hours before the actual drug. This ingestion will allow your cat to fall asleep and not waken again while the drug takes effect.

2. Putting a cat down with Benadryl

Benadryl is often used as an over-the-counter anti-allergy medicine. The drug is actually safe for your cats and dogs if given in the correct dosage. However, it is possible to administer Benadryl for your DIY cat euthanasia.

It is recommended to give your cat a dose that is 15 times higher than regular. It will take about 5 minutes for your cat to fall asleep and pass away without pain.

3. Going with Aspirin for Cat Euthanasia

Aspirin is a medicine used for reducing fever and relieving mild to moderate pain of all kinds. While extremely effective for the human body, cats are vulnerable to this medication, just as they are to Tylenol PM. It is simply too difficult for their systems to digest and process.

Euthanizing your cat with medication, aspirin, in particular, is a possible way to put them down. A few doses would be enough to put them to sleep peacefully.

4. Euthanizing with Tramadol

Pets have their own version of Tramadol made specifically for their own needs, and is a common pain reliever used for both cats and dogs. It is available in capsule, liquid, powder, or tablet form.

It is also known to have a bitter flavor, leading pet owners to mix it in cat food to hide the taste when administering it.

Using Tramadol to put down your pet cat, however, would require high doses which can result in your dog or cat having other side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, or maybe even seizures.

With regards to both the human and pet versions of it, you may want to consider other options first before choosing to use Tramadol for euthanasia.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can i put my cat to sleep at home

What is the cost to euthanize a cat?

The cost for euthanizing a cat with lethal injections ranges from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the vet’s office or hospital you go to.

Local animal shelters, animal control facilities, or several humane groups typically offer the service for a low or free price.

The more expensive options usually include additional services such as cremating your pet, returning their ashes to you in a special wooden box, and maybe even burial services.

Home euthanasia services, on the other hand, typically cost between $400 to $1000. It has the added benefit of your pet not traveling back and forth and being put to sleep in a strange environment.

Is Pentobarbital Sodium one of the available cat euthanasia drugs?

The barbiturate anesthetic is commonly used in pre-surgical procedures. Lethal injection is administered to your cat, allowing the chemical to quickly enter the animal’s blood.

It halts your cat’s heart and brain functions in about ten minutes or sometimes even in as little as two, leading him to a peaceful death. It is one of the best drugs to use.

What are ways to euthanize a cat with Xanax?

Xanax or alprazolam is a powerful antidepressant drug. Due to its severe side effects, it is not a medicine you can buy over the counter.

However, many pet owners contemplate using a high dose of Xanax as a humane way to euthanize a cat because of its sedative effects similar to that of sleeping pills.

As a note, Xanax and all drugs should be used carefully. An incorrect dosage may result in its effects fading too soon, and your cat suffers, waking up in pain before it can reach death.

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How much Benadryl do I give to put my cat down?

To ease their pain, cat owners sometimes consider benadryl for dying cats.

A lethal dose is usually between 20-40 tablets but is dependent on other factors such as your cat’s weight and pre-existing medical conditions. The lowest recorded lethal oral dose of Benadryl was 7 tablets for a 10lb cat (4.5kgs).

We strongly advise consulting with a professional who can help you determine the best way to euthanize a cat with Benadryl. It is to minimize the risk of doing more harm than good to your cats.

How much aspirin is needed to euthanize a cat?

Cats are more sensitive to aspirin than other animals, and humans are. Given wrongly, it can result in vomiting, internal bleeding, and more. 4-5 doses are suggested for cat euthanasia or toxic levels of 80 to 120 mg/kg.

As always, it is best to consult a professional before trying anything on your own.


Do-it-yourself cat euthanasia is a slightly controversial topic, sparking many conversations among pet owners online, specifically on Reddit.

At the end of the day however, you know your cat best and are the most qualified judge for the best way for him or her to go. Ultimately, even death won’t be able to sever the connection you share with your beloved pet.

Knowing how to euthanize a cat with over the counter drugs is something we hope you will never need, but can maybe help you or a friend if it comes to it in the far future.

— Update: 12-02-2023 — found an additional article Top tips from a vet on peaceful euthanasia for cats from the website for the keyword can i put my cat to sleep at home.

No one wants to think about the time they’ll have to say goodbye to their cat. For some, that may come after a long and happy life; for others, it may be sooner than expected. Making the decision to let them go is always hard. Especially since cats, at the best of times, dislike the vets. Here are some helpful tips to make that final visit as peaceful as possible.

Be prepared

Being well prepared goes a long way to making the euthanasia process more peaceful for you and your cat. Knowing what to expect and having made the important decisions ahead of the time will help you stay calm and in control when the time eventually comes, allowing you to focus on your cat’s well-being.

Deciding to have your cat put to sleep is never easy and you need to feel confident you’re making the right decision. 

At these times, our head and our heart often tell us different things. Your vet will guide you through all the stages of euthanasia. From choosing the right time, explaining how the process works, to making all the necessary arrangements before and after the event. They will be able to answer all of your questions so you know you are doing the right thing.

One decision best made ahead of time is whether to have your cat put to sleep at home or at the veterinary practice. 

Most vets can arrange a home visit for this. But having your cat put to sleep at home isn’t always more peaceful. Although cats will be more relaxed at home. Some may be more upset by strangers coming into their home than by visiting the vets. Losing a pet is also a very emotional experience. You may find it easier not to have a sad memory forever associated with your home.

You might also want to discuss what kind of arrangements you would like to make after your cat has been put to sleep. A range of options are available, from home burial to a personalised cremation. Your vet will usually arrange the cremation for you. But they can also advise you if you prefer to make your own arrangements.

Know what to expect

Even if you’ve been through it before, having your cat put to sleep may seem daunting or intimidating. Speaking to your vet ahead of time will allow them to explain the euthanasia process and answer your questions. They can also guide you to the right time to say goodbye. And put you at ease about what happens during and after your cat has been put to sleep.

Euthanasia, (‘putting to sleep’), is a swift, painless and dignified way to release a cat from untreatable suffering. Your vet will do all they can to make the process as peaceful as possible. Every vet has their own personal approach to euthanasia, but the basic procedure is similar. Your vet will ask you to sign a form giving them permission to carry out the euthanasia. They will then use a powerful injectable anaesthetic to firstly send your cat into a deep sleep; soon after this will stop its heart and breathing. The injection is usually given into a vein in one of the legs (usually a front one). But if your cat is very ill your vet may give it into your cat’s tummy instead; this will take longer to send them to sleep but will be less stressful for them than trying to inject into a collapsed vein. 

As the anaesthetic takes effect, your cat may breathe a little heavier. This is quite normal and not a sign of distress. After they’re gone, they may also give a few deep intakes of breath or twitch some of their muscles; the bladder may also leak as the body relaxes. These are all completely normal unconscious actions that your cat will not be aware of. Your vet will confirm that your cat has passed by carefully checking for the absence of a heartbeat.

Will they need sedation?

Most cats won’t need sedation before euthanasia. If your cat normally gets upset visiting the vets, your vet can prescribe something to help calm them before and during their visit. Although euthanasia is painless, some cats may not be comfortable being gently held for the injection. This tends to be more common in old, arthritic cats, or cats with serious illness, such as breathing difficulties. In these cases, your vet may administer an appropriate sedative to help them relax. Some vets also prefer to do this in every case, to pre-empt any problems. This sedation takes effect gradually over about ten minutes and puts cats into a light sleep. You will normally be able to hold or cuddle them during this time. But once they are sedated they may not be aware of your presence. 

If you feel you would rather your cat was sedated prior to euthanasia, speak to your vet as they will be keen to accommodate your wishes to do what they can to make the process as peaceful as possible.

Choose the right time

It’s not easy to make the decision to put your cat to sleep, and the choice of timing is sometimes out of your hands, but choosing the right time to let your cat go can make a big difference to how peaceful it is. In general, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Letting terminally ill cats go a few days early is better than leaving it a little bit late as a couple of days can make a big difference to how comfortable they are and how well they will tolerate the euthanasia process.

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The time of day you choose to have your cat put to sleep can also influence the peacefulness. Ask your vet for an appointment at a quiet time, such as first thing, or at the end of the day. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the vets but if you arrive early, it’s best to wait in the car until the vet is ready for you. This minimises time in the waiting room which will reduce stress for you and your cat.

Should I be there or not?

Many people want to be with their cat during the final moments, but some will prefer to remember different memories and periods of their life. We’re all different, so there’s no ‘right or wrong’ way to approach having your cat put to sleep – only the way that’s right for you. The process of euthanasia will be exactly the same as just as peaceful whether you’re there or not so don’t feel under pressure to attend if you feel you might be overwhelmed by emotion.

If you decide you would like to attend, it is best for your cat if only one or two family members are with you. Cats are very sensitive to their owner’s emotions and they may get stressed or anxious if there are lots of emotional people around them. If possible, arrange for other members of the family to say goodbye at home, or in small groups.

Let yourself grieve

Cats may be small but they leave a big hole in our lives after they’re gone. They’re loved and special family members and it’s normal to experience feelings of loss and grief after their passing. We all deal with these feelings at our own pace and in our own ways. But some people may feel regret or remorse for deciding to euthanise their cat rather than letting them die naturally. This is understandable, but you do not need to feel this way. Your vet will only advise euthanasia when all other treatment options have been exhausted, but they cannot make the decision for you. Your cat trusts and relies on you to make the right choice for them. 

Euthanasia is a brave and final act of love, compassion, and caring. In choosing to let your cat go, you are not depriving them of life but releasing them from untreatable pain and suffering. Talking with friends and family will help with these feelings. But if you are struggling to come to terms with your loss, your veterinary practice team can help direct you to an appropriate bereavement support service.

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— Update: 13-02-2023 — found an additional article How to Euthanize a Cat With Over-the-Counter Drugs: 2 Easy Ways from the website for the keyword can i put my cat to sleep at home.

It’s a tough decision, but sometimes euthanizing your cat is the kindest thing you can do. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Today, you’ll learn how to euthanize a cat with over-the-counter drugs.

When cats live as part of your family for years, it’s not uncommon for them to develop cat diseases as they age. If your cat is in pain and has a poor quality of life, you may decide that the kindest thing to do is to have her euthanized.

Euthanasia (good death) ensures that your cat leaves this world peacefully, without any pain or suffering. Before proceeding to euthanize your cat, ask yourself the following crucial questions:

  • Is my cat suffering from a terminal illness with no hope of recovery?
  • Does my cat have a poor quality of life, despite treatment?
  • Have I tried different medications and treatments to restore the health of my cat?

If your answer to these questions is a resounding yes, then you may want to proceed with cat euthanasia.

It’s worth noting that getting euthanasia right is not easy. It takes practice and attention to details. Your goal is to ensure that your family member (pet) gets a “beautiful death.” 

Here’s a detailed guide on how to euthanize a cat with over-the-counter drugs.

A Procedure on How to Euthanize a Cat with Over-the-Counter Drugs

Before we proceed with the cat euthanasia procedure, it’s necessary to know the basic cat statistics in the United States of America. The table below presents these statistics:

Fact2017-2018 (Source: AVMA)2021-2022 (APPA Survey)
Households owning at least a cat31.9 M (25%)45.4 M (35%)
% of the country that fosters cats5%
% of new cat owners who owned cats because of Covid-1940% (33% female, 49% male)
% of cat owners who treat their cats as family members76%
% of those who keep cats for companionship20%
% of those who keep cats as property3%
Average amount spent on vet visits per household annually$335$801
% of neutered or spayed cats80%85%
% of pure breed cats16%31%
% of mutts or mixed breed cats84%75%
essential cat statistics in the U.S

There are two main ways to euthanize a cat using over-the-counter drugs:

  • With a veterinarian in their office
  • At home with or without a vet

How to Euthanize a Cat with Over-the-Counter Drugs at a Veterinarian’s Office

Can i put my cat to sleep at home
a vet preparing to sedate a cat

If you elect to have a veterinarian euthanize your cat, you’ll have to take the cat to the vet’s office.

Veterinarians use a combination of over-the-counter drugs to put down a cat. In most cases, they use the following procedure:

Profound Sedation Injection

The vet will anesthetize the cat with an injection of a sedative. This will help to calm and relax the cat. They use the following drugs for sedation:

  • Telazol: This is a combination of tiletamine and zolazepam. It’s a powerful injectable anesthetic used for both cats and dogs. When administered as an overdose during euthanasia, it causes complete anesthesia. Such a dose ensures that the cat will not wake up and as a result, will have a painless death.
  • Ketamine: This is a dissociative anesthetic that’s used in human and veterinary medicine. It’s often used in combination with other drugs such as xylazine to produce anesthesia. When given in large doses, it can be used to euthanize animals.
  • Propofol: This is a short-acting sedative/anesthetic used in human and veterinary medicine. It’s often used to euthanize animals because it works quickly and causes minimal pain.
  • Xylazine: It’s often used in combination with other drugs, such as ketamine, to produce anesthesia.

Euthanasia Solution Injection

The vet will then give your cat an injection of a euthanasia solution. This solution is a lethal dose of drugs that will stop the heart and breathing. The most common euthanasia solution is pentobarbital.

Pentobarbital is a barbiturate that’s used as a sedative, hypnotic, and anticonvulsant. It’s also used for lethal injections. When given in large doses, it will quickly stop the heart and breathing. It impacts the cat by inducing rapid onset of cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.

The euthanasia solution is injected into the cat’s vein, which is usually located in the leg. The cat will then quickly become unconscious and die within minutes. As the pet owner, you won’t be able to notice as your beloved pet slips away. The process happens quickly.

How to Euthanize a Cat with Over-the-Counter Drugs at Home

The burning question for many pet owners is, “Can I put my cat to sleep at home?’ The answer is a resounding yes.

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You may elect to put down your cat at home using over-the-counter drugs. This option is often less expensive and more convenient than going to the vet.

If you decided to euthanize your cat at home, you’ll have to get the sleeping pills and cat euthanasia drugs from a licensed veterinarian or animal control facilities. It’s important to note that you’ll need knowledge of the quantity and the injection location for this. It’s therefore recommended to invite a vet to euthanize your cat at home.

The veterinarian will assess your cat and discuss the available options and drugs with you. They will also show you how to properly administer the drugs.

Once you have the drugs, you can proceed with the following steps:

Sedation Injection

Can i put my cat to sleep at home
sedated cat sleeping

The first step is to anesthetize the cat through an intravenous sedation injection. This will help to calm and relax the cat. The most common drugs used for sedation are Benadryl, xylazine, ketamine, Xanax, and other sleeping pills.

Euthanasia Injection

After the cat is sedated, you’ll then give them an injection of a euthanasia solution. This solution is a lethal dose of drugs that will stop the heart and breathing. The most common euthanasia solution is pentobarbital.

When given in large doses, it will quickly stop the heart and breathing.

The euthanasia solution is injected into the cat’s vein, which is usually located in the leg. The cat will then quickly become unconscious and die within minutes.

Expert Tip: This guide on how to euthanize a cat with over-the-counter drugs does not recommend pet owners to administer the sedation injection on their own. This is because it’s difficult to find a vein and properly administer the injection. It’s best to have a professional do this because cats are also extremely sensitive and it might be challenging for you. Furthermore, Benadryl and other sleeping pills used during sedation have serious effects if not properly dosed.

When Should I Euthanize a Cat?

There are many factors to consider before putting down your pet cat. In most cases, these are unavoidable circumstances whereby the only option is to euthanize the cat. The main reasons to consider euthanizing your cat include:

Deteriorating Health Condition

If your cat is suffering from a terminal illness or has a poor quality of life, it may be time to let them go. It’s not worth it to prolong their suffering.

If you notice that your cat’s health is getting worse by day, make the bold move and consult your vet. They will help you to make the best decision for your cat. A vet will diagnose the cat and inform you whether there’s hope for it to survive. If not, they will help you to put the cat down.

Uncontrollable Behavior

If your cat is exhibiting uncontrollable behavior, such as aggression, it may be time to euthanize them. In some cases, cats can become a danger to themselves and others when they display such behaviors. Euthanasia may be the best solution to protect everyone.

Uncontrolled behaviors that may prompt you to euthanize your cat include:

  • Litter box issues
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Hiding all the time
  • Attacking people or other animals

It’s always advisable to try and change your cat’s behavior before putting them down. You can do this by seeking professional help from a vet or animal behaviorist. If the problem persists, then you may have to euthanize your cat.

Financial Reasons

Veterinary bills can be expensive, especially if your cat is suffering from a chronic illness. If you’re struggling to pay the vet bills, you may have to make the tough decision to put your cat down.

It’s important to note that there are other options available, such as pet insurance and GoFundMe campaigns. You should exhaust all options before putting your cat down for financial reasons.

Cognitive Dysfunction

As cats age, they may suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This results in a decline in cognitive function and may cause them to be confused and disoriented. Euthanasia may be the best option to prevent further suffering.

Cognitive dysfunction in cats leads to issues like:

  • Loss of appetite due to loss of smell
  • Inability to use the litter box
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Wandering aimlessly
  • Aggression
  • Weight loss because the cat does not eat

If you notice any of these signs in your cat, it’s important to consult a vet. They will help you to make the best decision for your cat.

What is the Cost to Euthanize a Cat?

The cost of euthanizing a cat does not vary greatly like that for dogs. This is because most cats don’t weigh more than 25 pounds.

You should expect to pay up to $150 to euthanize your cat. The cost covers sedation and euthanasia injections, and a visit by the veterinarian. However, it does not cover any cremation fee or aftercare.

It’s important to note that the cost of euthanasia may be cheaper if you do it at home. This is because you won’t have to pay for transportation or aftercare costs.

Low-Cost Euthanasia for Cats

What will you do if you can’t afford the ideal cat euthanasia cost? The solution is simple, look for low-cost euthanasia options for your cat.

There are many ways to get low-cost euthanasia services for your cat. The most common way is to search online or ask around for recommendations.

Another option is to check with your local Humane Society or SPCA. They may offer discounts or have a list of resources where you can get low-cost euthanasia services. The Humane Society of West Michigan is a good example that offers low-cost cat euthanasia.

A Word From Farewell Pet Care

As a cat owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your cat lives a happy and healthy life. However, there may come a time when you have to euthanize them.

As has been detailed in this guide on how to euthanize a cat with over-the-counter drugs, you now know what it takes for a successful procedure.

Euthanasia is a difficult decision to make for many cat owners. However, it’s important to remember that it’s an act of mercy. It’s a way to prevent your cat from suffering any further. There’s no need to leave your cat suffering when you know that there’s no alternative solution.

If you’re considering euthanasia for your cat, consult with your veterinarian first. They will help you to make the best decision for your cat. Finally, don’t forget to consider all of your options, including low-cost euthanasia services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put my cat to sleep at home?

Yes. You can put your cat to sleep at home with the help of a veterinarian. This is a good option that will save you the cost of having to transport your cat to the vet.

What is the most humane way to euthanize a cat?

There are many ways to euthanize a cat. The most humane way to euthanize a cat is by using a lethal injection of barbiturates. This will cause the cat to fall asleep and die without any pain or suffering.

How can I help my cat pass away?

You can help your cat to pass away by:

  • Making sure they are comfortable and have access to cat food and water
  • Talking to them in a soft voice
  • Stroking their fur
  • Giving them treats
  • Playing with them
  • Allowing them to spend time with their favorite toys or people. These final moments are important for both you and your cat. Try to make them as calm and peaceful as possible.

What is the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide?

Euthanasia is when a veterinarian administers a lethal injection to a cat. Assisted suicide is when the owner of the cat administers the lethal injection themselves. Both methods will result in the death of the cat. However, euthanasia is the more humane option as it’s less stressful for the cat.


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